Can anyone recommend a battlefield tour to do from Hue including the DMZ?
Harsh Drifter ;-)
On Drifters advice, we opted for the Vinh Moc tunnels only. Khe sanh and Hamburger Hill etc.... added many hours to the trip with what I was told, not a lot to see anymore.
The tunnels were amazing and well worthwhile. You should allow about 6 hours and our hotel provided a driver and a 12 seater (5 of us) for $70 for the trip. You do not need a guide for the trip as they are available at the site.
Bloody amazing stuff and not to be missed IMO.
Thanks for the heads up Drifter,
Sounds like a plan. Beats backtracking for hours. Have not been to Vinh yet but Drifter may jump on board and give you the good oil. The countryside here is beautiful so whatever you choose will be a good option.
From my experiences, there is nothing to see in Vinh except the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh which takes about 30 minutes. In Dong Hoi there is the ruins of a church, and as far as war sites, that is about it. I would suggest you continue to Hue from Hanoi and then book tours from Hue at one of the many tour agencies. You can easily go to the Vinh Moc tunnels, the DMZ, Khe Sanh and what is left of some battle sites along HIghway 9 in one day. Quang Tri City has a very interesting citadel and between Quang Tri City and Hue there is a very large bunker complex on the west side of Highway 1 that has been cleaned up and restored. You should do as much research before hand about the sites you want to visit as a lot of tour guides will show you a location, but know very little about what occurred there. For example they might show the tank at Lang Vie, but they don't see to know that was the first place where the North used tanks in the south and some of the tank drivers were women. The same with Hamburger Hill. I wrote a long review of my trip to Hamburger Hill and you need special permits to go there. I've been shown three different places that tour guides/motor drivers have claimed to be Con Thien. So, I think you would find stopping at Vinh and Dong Hoi to be a waste of time (except if you are planning on visiting the caves near Dong Hoi) if you want to visit battle sites. You might consider going on the back of a motorbike with one of the really good tour guys based in Hue. Hope this is helpful so you can optimize your time.Edited: 2:45 pm, May 26, 2013
Hi Jason. Long time no speak.
So much of what you say makes absolute sense, especially given that everybody, and I really do mean everybody, in the general VN tourism industry was born after the events in question. They're looking forward, not back, and that's endearingly positive, although not an awful lot of help when it comes to visitors with an interest in military history or people who have ghosts that need to be laid to rest. The latter are particularly important because it was a bugger of a time.
Despite the zap-happy post reporters currently on this forum, the contact details of your recommended guides would be helpful.
I used this group last week: http://www.annam.comtour.com/. Arrived late morning in Hue (the 10.45 train was an hour late), rushed to the hotel to drop my bag, and then took off. The guide Mr. Vinh was an interpreter with the US army advisory team for about 8 years so really knows what he is talking about.
Not much of what the US military built is still standing. Afew reventments at some air bases in SaiGon and DaNang. An air strip here and there. I'm sure that's what they intended. Unless the place had some strategic value its probably gone. Both bases that I served on are still in use today but look nothing like they did back when. The most profetic place to see is along the hiway to The Rockpile..........where agent orange has defoliated the landscape and still remains barren today....wanna see something worthwhile?....look at that and take that memory of the Vietnam/American war with you.
Spot on Drifter.
Having worked in the Khe Sanh area with UNICEF on water filtration systems - NOTHING removes the DIOXINS from defoliant spraying - I can tell you that there is bugger all left at Khe Sanh to see - other than NVA graves.
Hardly surprising, as General Abrams, who replaced General Westmoreland, ordered the total destruction of the Khe Sanh series of fortifications on withdrawal from the bases. Anything the Americans missed was "scavenged" forty odd years ago by the Vietnamese.
Best regards. Ian
SVN 1969. Currently Camp Phnom Penh